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Early detection of dementia research receives $15M from Colonial Foundation

26 March 2019
Key Researchers
Vital research to address the growing burden of dementia in Australia has been given a significant boost with $15 million over five years from Colonial Foundation.

The grant will enable a new research program – led by researchers at WEHI and The Royal Melbourne Hospital – to develop new diagnostic tests for the early detection of dementia.

At a glance

  • Vital dementia research has received $15 million over five years from Colonial Foundation.
  • The grant will establish the Colonial Foundation Healthy Ageing Centre led by WEHI and The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
  • The collaboration aims to develop diagnostic tests for the early detection of dementia in people as young as 40.

Addressing a growing health need

Dementia is a major health challenge in Australia, with more than 440,000 people – mostly older individuals – having this neurodegenerative condition. Without breakthroughs in diagnostics and therapies, the number of dementia patients is expected to more than double by 2050.

Early detection of the disease is crucial because by the time symptoms occur, most of the damage cannot be reversed.

Research and clinical collaboration

The program of research will take place within the newly established Colonial Foundation Healthy Ageing Centre located at WEHI in the heart of the world-renowned Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.

WEHI director Professor Doug Hilton said the centre was the first of its kind in Australia and would provide a platform for harnessing the latest technology and collaborative power of experts from both WEHI and The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Associate Professor Andrew Webb in the proteomics lab
Associate Professor Andrew Webb (pictured) and Professor
Francis Bowling will lead the research team

“The new Colonial Foundation Healthy Ageing Centre will enable our leading clinicians, pathologists and researchers to come together with the goal of developing diagnostic tests for the early detection of neurodegenerative conditions that could cause dementia in people as young as 40,” he said.

Professor Hilton said the research team, led by Associate Professor Andrew Webb and Professor Francis Bowling, would establish a biological model for healthy ageing and profile the molecular information of more than 20,000 patients recruited to the study.

“The important biological insights gained could lead to exciting advances at the frontier of ageing, such as the development of therapies that halt or slow the progression of dementia,” he said.

Shared vision to improve the health of all Australians

Professor Doug Hilton and Professor Christine Kilpatrick

 

WEHI director Professor Doug Hilton and CEO of
Melbourne Health and The Royal Melbourne Hospital
Professor Christine Kilpatrick

Professor Christine Kilpatrick, Chief Executive of The Royal Melbourne Hospital, praised Colonial Foundation’s support of the vital project.

“Through the expertise and innovation of the Colonial Foundation Healthy Ageing Centre, we hope to provide doctors across Australia with accredited tools and tests that make a positive difference to the quality of life for patients and their loved ones. This project is an example of Victoria leading the way in the care of Australia’s ageing population,” Professor Kilpatrick said.

CEO of Colonial Foundation Mr André Carstens said Colonial Foundation, WEHI and The Royal Melbourne Hospital had a shared vision for improving the health of all Australians.

“Colonial Foundation wholeheartedly supports this vital project to generate new health strategies that address the growing burden of dementia on our communities. Our shared vision, along with the WEHI and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, is to enhance healthy ageing for the future benefit and well-being of every Australian,” Mr Carstens said.

 

Media inquiries

M: +61 475 751 811 
E: communityrelations@wehi.edu.au

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